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AZZEDINE ALAÏA is a Tunisian by birth and a Parisian by election. His formative education was at the École des Beaux-Arts in Tunis, where his study of sculpture still influences the intimate relationship he maintains with the human figure.
Moving to Paris, he began working briefly in the ateliers of Christian Dior and Guy Laroche, and was encouraged to open his own atelier by his close friend Thierry Mugler. Over his years as a couturier he has developed a list of devoted clientele, whose names include Cécile and Mathilde de Rothschild, Louise de Vilmorin, Bettina Graziani, Greta Garbo, and Arletty.
Throughout his career his curiosity has inspired his designs with influences he traces to an early exposure to cinema, African art, Egyptian artifacts, and classical and modern sculpture, which he has always collected.
The 1980s were an explosive mix of couture and culture. In 1985, Alaïa received two Oscars de la Mode awarded by the French Ministry of Culture. He also had his first solo show at the CAPC Museum in Bordeaux curated by Jean-Louis Froment surrounded by the sculpture of Dan Flavin. This began his relationship with art and couture. Alaïa’s show at NYC’s Palladium in 1988 rocked the fashion world. The new “supermodels” of the time were discovered by him, and love him; Stephanie Seymour, Linda Spiring, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Veronica Webb, and Jasmine Le Bon to this day are still his faithful clients and friends. In 1989, Alaïa designed the costume for Jessye Norman’s performance at the finale of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution.
The 1990s saw Alaïa publish his first book, with photographs by Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi, Mondino, Gilles Bensimon, Arthur Elgort, Helmut Newton, and Jean-Paul Goude. In 1996, a solo exhibition at Palazzo Corsini in Florence was followed by an exhibit at the Biennale della Moda, also in Florence, with work by Julian Schnabel. A solo exhibition at the Groninger Museum aux Pays-Bas in 1998 with works by Basquiat, Picasso, César, Kiefer, and Christophe Von Wehye was followed in 2000 by a show in New York at the Guggenheim Soho with Andy Warhol’s retrospective, blurring the line between fine art and couture.
In 2002 he established the Foundation ALAÏA as the archive for his clothes and his own collection of fashion and design with the intention that one day it will be open to the public and to students, with exhibitions and events.
He continues to join forces with prestigious contemporary art museums around the world presenting his designs in the context of contemporary art. In 2012 the Groninger Museum presented “ALAÏA in the 21st Century.” In the Fall of 2013 a solo exhibition – a major anthology of his work to date – will be the inaugural show for the re-opening of the Galliera Museum, as well as an installation in the Matisse Rooms of the Museum of Modern Art.